A couple of comments on Bahrain find me sort of reminiscing. Well, sort of, because although there was a spring in my step back in 2003, the year spent there is hardly going to evoke anything akin to nostalgia. Bars stuck in hotels, full of men and ……. did you ever hear the joke about an ex-pat woman and man landing at Heathrow after a stint in the Gulf? “What does it feel like to be poor”, she says, and he replies, “and how does it feel to be ugly” That is why, when John Yates, the former assistant commissioner of the Met who is in Bahrain advising, supposedly, on police reform, writes that he feels safer there, than he does in London, we can conclude that this is one boring old fart, who away from his job is most likely to be living the good life in one of the islands five-star hotels. Yes, John and with the heavies who will be escorting you here, there and everywhere, like from the Gulf hotel down to the Royal Palace, all of five minutes away, you will feel perfectly safe.
No, Bahrain is certainly not London and while it might indeed be that the 81-year old F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, does indeed “know people who live there, and it’s all very quiet and peaceful,” that is partly because it is an Arab country. Away from the Formula One and the “behind closed doors” “happy hours”, where drunken, sad, lonely, ex-pats, gather in droves and drool at the one or two reasonably attractive women on the dance floor, it is a quiet and peaceful place. Moreover, with John advising the government there, it has, no doubt, become even more peaceful and quiet with the demonstrations being largely forced into areas outside Manama.
However, that is really the point. Apart from insulting the people of Bahrain by going ahead with the race, the race itself is, like the drinking and the shenanigans, not really a part of that country’s culture and you know, while we might not even like that culture, ego for one was bored most of the time he was there, it might be a good idea to respect that. Moreover, I am sure that if we do, when the people of Bahrain finally have their day, they will be quite happy to let people like John and Bernie enjoy the peace and quiet, they will be quite happy to let them shop till they drop in one of the islands malls, quite happy to let them sup their coffee at Costa Coffee and, who knows, if they really behave themselves now, they might even let them have their wee glass of whisky in the comfort of their home or even over a meal in a hotel bar.